Mariners win Lander majors crownJul 2, 2017 By Scott Akanewich, Sports Editor
Jonny Kulow had 13 strikeouts on the mound and added a home run at the plate in a 7-3 victory over the Emeralds in the championship game.
Jonny Kulow came to play at City Park in Lander on Wednesday night, as he and his Mariners teammates took on the Emeralds in the Lander Little League majors championship game.
Did he ever.
Kulow struck out 13 batters in 5 1/3 innings of work on the mound and added a two-run homer at the plate for good measure in a 7-3 victory.
But Kulow wasn't the only mound ace dealing on the day.
The game began as a pitchers duel between Kulow and the Emeralds' Even Stephenson.
In fact, through the first two innings, every out recorded on both sides was of the strikeout variety, with both starting hurlers racking up a quick six punchouts apiece.
It was what happened in between the watward hacks during the opening two frames which made all the difference.
After Kulow fanned Emeralds leadoff man Daylen Ayers to begin the game, Stephenson drew a free pass and quickly advanced all the way around to third on a pair of stolen bases.
Kulow set Sammy Bush down on strikes, bringing up Carlito Gonzales, who banged an RBI single with two outs to plate Stephenson with the game's first run and a 1-0 advantage.
Unfortunately for the visitors, it was the only lead they would enjoy on the evening.
Kulow struck out Nathan Gilders to end the inning and let his offense go to work in the bottom half of the first.
Younger brother and batterymate, catcher Benny Kulow, drew a base-on-balls, then proceeded to swipe a pair of bags, ending up on third for Luka Kramer, who drove a Stephenson two-strike offering for an RBI single to deadlock the game at 1-1.
But, the score wasn't level for long as Jonny Kulow stepped in and sent the first pitch he saw over the center-field fence for a two-run blast, which provided his club a 3-1 lead.
Stephenson was undaunted and recovered to strike out the next two batters to end the inning, but the tone had been set.
However, the Emeralds battled back, scoring a run to close the gap to 3-2 in the top of the second.
Seth Van Fleet walked to open the frame, then stole second, third and home with Ben Shade at the plate.
But, holding true to form for both pitchers, Jonny Kulow set the side down on strikes to end any hopes of a further Emeralds fightback.
The game remained a tight affair for the next two innings, with the score remaining 3-2 entering the bottom of the fourth.
Jonny Kulow manufactured a run all by himself, leading off with a double, then stealing third and home to give himself an insurance run at 4-2.
It was then back to the mound and Jonny Kulow threw his third consecutive scoreless inning in the top of the fifth, adding another three strikeouts to his impressive total on the night.
Finally, the Mariners lowered the hammer blow on a valiant Emeralds side, with another two runs in the bottom of the fifth to increase the lead to 7-2.
Xavier Hill beat out an infield single, followed by a Riley Stoudt base hit, bringing up Jonny Kulow with runners at second and third with one out.
Connor Higginbotham then came through with a drive up the middle to chase home Hill and Jonny Kulow for the Mariners' final pair of runs.
In the top of the sixth, Jonny Kulow climbed the hill, attempting to close the deal, but his pitch count finally caught up to him and was relieved by Stoudt, who got the final two outs.
The Emeralds scored the contest's final run to close the scoring, but it was too little, too late.
Appropriately, it was Jonny Kulow who recorded the last out, finishing off a double play to end the game.
Emeralds 1 1 0 0 0 1 -- 3
Mariners 3 0 0 1 2 x -- 7